‘Tampering with our democracy will not be tolerated’: California ballot drop box set on fire in suspected arson attack

As many as 100 ballots damaged, but officials say replacements will be issued

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Wednesday 21 October 2020 20:10 BST
California ballot box set on fire in arson attack

An official ballot collection box outside a public library in California has been set on fire in what is believed to be an arson attack.

Firefighters in Baldwin Park, part of Los Angeles County, extinguished the flames on Sunday evening after having to cut through the frame of the metal container.

An unnamed individual is said to have deliberately dropped a piece of burning newspaper into the ballot box slot, The Washington Post reports.

Ballots were gathered up by the firefighters and delivered to the Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office.

Voters who deposited their ballots at the collection box over the weekend can contact the office to check on its status.

An official said that all of the damaged ballots have been accounted for and voters will receive replacements.

One estimate puts the number of damaged return envelopes at 100, due both to the fire and the water used to extinguish it.

The FBI is now involved in what could be considered a federal crime. Local police and the attorney general are also investigating.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L Solis said: “The arson of an official ballot drop box by the Baldwin Park Library in the First District has all the signs of an attempt to disenfranchise voters and call into question the security of our elections.

“Tampering, or attempts to tamper, with our democracy will not be tolerated," she added.

This is not the only controversy over ballot boxes in the LA area in recent weeks. The California Republican Party admitted to installing some unauthorised ballot drop boxes in recent weeks.

They argued that doing so does not violate state law which allows voter harvesting, but some were labelled as “official” even though they are not.

State and local officials are investigating.

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